When engineers apply to Trail of Bits, they’re often surprised by how straightforward and streamlined our hiring process is. After years of experience, we’ve cut the process to its bedrock, so that it’s candidate focused, quick, and effective.
Here’s a short video showing some of our European colleagues discussing some cool things they’re working on now:
Our Interview Process
The process from interview to offer is in four parts, and the whole thing can take three weeks or less. We want to be respectful of your time—we won’t advance you in the process unless we think there’s a good reason to continue, and we ask you to do the same.
Here’s a short video showing some of our European colleagues describing the Trail of Bits interview process:
In a Nutshell
- Initial screen (~30 minutes, one-on-one)
- Assessment (2 hours, on your own)
- Final interview (~2 hours, with two engineers and a team or practice lead)
- Decision (within five business days) and offer letter or pass with explanation (we often recommend that candidates reapply in the future)
We start our process with a 30-minute screening call, designed to assure a rough match of mission, skill, and capability. These calls are typically with a Trail of Bits recruiter, or the hiring manager for the position.
Those making it through the screen are given a brief, take-home assessment, on which we want you to spend two hours or less. Interviews are only ever so good, and there’s a limit to what you can get across on a phone or video call. We want to see what you can do! Some people have a work portfolio, but even in many of those cases, we want to watch you work. So we prepared short assessments that we’ve benchmarked to only take approximately two hours. The assessment is technically focused and allows us to see your skills in practice. The assessment is reviewed by a lead engineer in the appropriate practice—cryptography, blockchain, application security, research, or engineering. In some cases, in place of the assessment, we are happy to accept a work sample you have already put together.
Those making it through the assessment are invited to the final interview, where the real matchmaking is done. Now, whether you provided a work sample or completed an assessment assignment we send you, if it got you past that hurdle and into this final interview, that’s something to talk about! We find that the best way to start our final interviews is right there, because in fact this is something you are rightfully proud of. Tell us about it, and how you approached the issue, the problems you faced while doing it and go ahead and brag a little! This is a perfect way to start a conversation about what it would be like if you worked here.
Our final interviews are about two hours in length—some are shorter, some longer, but it’s around there on average. You can expect a conversation with two to three peers, about a range of deeply technical subjects to assess whether this is a good alignment for us all. There are no trick questions, just a collegial approach to solving technical problems similar to those we face every day.
A healthy portion of the final interview—about 20%—is dedicated to answering your questions about us. We’re very up-front about what it’s like to work with us.
Within five business days, you should receive either an offer letter, or an email explaining why we decided not to move forward with your candidacy. In many cases, we recommend that you reapply in the future. For example, when you get more experience in an area we felt you needed more depth in, or after you’ve developed some specific skills we mentioned during the process. But in all cases we will be open and communicative.
Negotiating and acceptance
Our offer will be well-considered and based on the conditions and criteria we know to exist. If there are other factors you feel we have not taken into account, please do feel free to reply and negotiate. You’ll find us reasonable—at this point we want you to work with us as much as you want to work with us, so we make efforts to meet your expectations wherever we can.
During the interview process we’ll ask—or you’ll tell us—what your availability will be, so at the offer stage we will propose a start date. If you’re planning to accept an offer with us, we always recommend you take some extra time off between jobs. We advocate for it. If you need a different start date—for example, if you need more time to give notice, to finish some personal business prior to joining us, or even if you want to start sooner than we’d thought—we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
All paperwork is sent digitally and once it’s all signed, we work with you to get you all the equipment that you need. We also provide a virtual Ramp credit card for other onboarding expenses that we’re happy to cover (more on that in Onboarding, below).
Starting at Trail of Bits
Once you accept and sign your offer letter, we’ll provide you with the documentation you’ll need to have the most successful (and enjoyable!) onboarding experience. From items like payroll and benefits to our operating practices and procedures, you’ll find our documentation and resources are quite comprehensive. The first things you can expect to find are:
- Onboarding checklist
- Payroll and benefits enrollment steps
- Employee handbook
- Handbook for the practice you are joining (e.g., Assurance, Engineering, Project Management Organization, Operations, etc.)
- Handbook for the team you are joining (e.g., Application Security, Technical Editing, etc.)
- Compensation philosophy
- Learning & development resources
Our Learning & Development Resources document, for example, contains a detailed and actionable list of resources that each Trail of Bits engineer and non-engineer can use to further their career and personal development goals. From books we think you should read to presentations—ours and those of others—you should watch, to references on specific courses we think are great for all of us. Managers will find guides to better leadership, all employees will find access to online classes and courses, and interns can benefit from tips and tricks lists. And engineers will love that we regularly schedule software development and skills-based training for the team and send individuals to targeted training for areas we intend to grow and specialize in.
We outfit every employee with the top kit they need to work remotely (and securely!). Engineers at Trail of Bits currently receive the latest generation 14 or 16″ Macbook Pro with 64 GB of RAM, and Operations team members receive the latest generation 13″ Macbook Pro with 24 GB of RAM. Depending on your home country, this will either be ordered to arrive before your start date, or we will send you a Ramp card to buy the items in your home country. We will also order a YubiKey 5C and 5Ci, a high-end Logitech C925e or Brio webcam, and one of our standard headsets (typically, a Sennheiser Game One) to arrive before your first day. Your Ramp card is also loaded with extra cash to upgrade your home office (we recommend Dell U2723QE or Dell U3223QE monitors, a CalDigit TS4 Plus dock, or even a new router like the Eero Pro 6E). There’s lots more information in our onboarding guide, which you’ll receive when you join!